Feeds

ISP bosses told to get real on broadband speeds

Ofcom Consumer Panel wades in

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Ofcom's independent consumer quango has called on ISP bosses to ensure people feel less cheated by the broadband packages they advertise.

Dissent has been mounting over "up to" advertising of broadband speeds. For most consumers, an "up to 8Mbit/s" line will crawl to about half that speed because of contention, poor quality wiring and distance from the telephone exchange.

In her letter to the chief execs of the six most popular ISPs, Ofcom Consumer Panel chairman Colette Bowe wrote: "We are of course aware of the technical reasons for the 'up to' terminology that you use.

"I would however like to have your views about how these technical issues might be better addressed in terms of giving clearer information to potential customers."

The Consumer Panel acts as an advisor to Ofcom's regulators. It has no powers of its own, but acts as a "consumer conscience" for the watchdog, which can opt to follow its advice or ignore it.

Consumer confidence in internet providers has taken a battering as margins and therefore customer service have been squeezed. The ISP trade association ISPA will be discussing dissatisfaction with fair usage policies and bandwidth at its conference at the end of this month.

Despite its toothlessness, the Ofcom Consumer Panel has asked the ISPs to consider some specific changes they could make to improve the reputation of the industry. Bowe has suggested the bigwigs agree to advise prospective customers their likely speed on their individual line. They should also extend the cooling-off period, and change contracts so people can switch ISP if the quality of their connection is too poor, she wrote.

Ofcom proper is currently consulting on how best to fund a modern internet infrastructure for the UK. Replacing the dodgy copper and aluminium last mile - which encourages ISPs to use weasel words in their marketing - with fibre-optics will cost billions.

New cabling would make it easier to guarantee speeds by removing the distance and poor quality wiring factors, but may not solve the contention issue, as many Virgin Media customers can attest today. Few in future would notice the difference between 100Mbit/s and 50Mbit/s, however. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.